Cholesterol-sensing liver X receptors stimulate Th2-driven allergic eosinophilic asthma in mice

Muriel Smet, Lien van Hoecke, Ans de Beuckelaer, Seppe Vander Beken, Thomas Naessens, Karl Vergote, Monique Willart, Bart N. Lambrecht, Jan Åke Gustafsson, Knut R. Steffensen, Johan Grooten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Introduction: Liver X receptors (LXRs) are nuclear receptors that function as cholesterol sensors and regulate cholesterol homeostasis. High cholesterol has been recognized as a risk factor in asthma; however, the mechanism of this linkage is not known. Methods: To explore the importance of cholesterol homeostasis for asthma, we investigated the contribution of LXR activity in an ovalbumin- and a house dust mite-driven eosinophilic asthma mouse model. Results: In both models, airway inflammation, airway hyper-reactivity, and goblet cell hyperplasia were reduced in mice deficient for both LXRα and LXRβ isoforms (LXRα–/– β–/–) as compared to wild-type mice. Inversely, treatment with the LXR agonist GW3965 showed increased eosinophilic airway inflammation. LXR activity contributed to airway inflammation through promotion of type 2 cytokine production as LXRα–/– β–/– mice showed strongly reduced protein levels of IL-5 and IL-13 in the lungs as well as reduced expression of these cytokines by CD4+ lung cells and lung-draining lymph node cells. In line herewith, LXR activation resulted in increased type 2 cytokine production by the lung-draining lymph node cells. Conclusions: In conclusion, our study demonstrates that the cholesterol regulator LXR acts as a positive regulator of eosinophilic asthma in mice, contributing to airway inflammation through regulation of type 2 cytokine production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)350-361
Number of pages12
JournalImmunity Inflammation and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2016


  • Asthma
  • Cholesterol
  • Eosinophilic airway inflammation
  • Liver X receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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